Kobe Bryant will forever be remembered as one of the fiercest competitors in sports history. That unmatched competitiveness was amplified whenever his Los Angeles Lakers faced off against their archrival, the Boston Celtics.
Two months after the Lakers fell to the C's in the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant headed to China to take part in the Summer Olympics. There, he helped the United States earn its first gold medal since 2000.
But the sting from his loss to the Celtics overshadowed the euphoria of his Olympics victory.
WNBA star Sue Bird, who also was in China for the '08 Games, told a great story about witnessing Bryant's competitive attitude while drinking wine and playing card games with him that summer.
“He was fresh off [the Finals loss] and you could tell [he was still thinking it]” Bird told Los Angeles Sparks star and ESPN analyst Chiney Ogwuimike.“… [We were] just kicking it and he saw this newspaper — it was something about the Lakers series and blah blah blah — and there was a picture of Paul Pierce celebrating.
“And he didn’t say a word. He didn’t say anything. But we saw him take the paper. He started cutting out the Paul Pierce picture. He folded it up and put it in his pocket and was like, ‘Motivation.’ And we were like, ‘Oh, it never stops with him.’ And you can tell.”
There never will be another player like the "Black Mamba."
Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26 along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others. He was 41 years old.
You can listen to Pierce reminisce about the C's Finals win over the Lakers in the Celtics Talk Podcast below:
Whenever Kemba Walker looks down at the No. 8 on his jersey, he'll be reminded of the Mamba Mentality.
While others in the NBA switched their jersey numbers in the wake of Kobe Bryant's tragic death, Walker instead decided to honor the Los Angeles Lakers legend by keeping his No. 8. The Boston Celtics guard spoke with ESPN's Rachel Nichols about what it means to wear that number going forward.
"Now, that number means even more. So every time I step on the court, I just want to give 100 percent for him," Walker told Nichols. "That's my goal for the rest of the year and for the rest of my career."
In the immediate aftermath of Bryant's passing, Walker considered a number change. Evidently, he decided the best way for him to honor Bryant was to continue wearing No. 8 while putting 100-percent effort into every game, just as Kobe would.
"I had a talk about it with some close people in my circle," Walker said. "I definitely thought about giving it up but then I thought, I think Kobe would want me and allow me to wear it. We want to keep his legacy going. I know of a few of us that's kept it. We're all just going to go out there and do what we can to play as hard as possible for Kobe."
Not enough Kemba Walker in your life right now? He and I sat down to talk about what it was like replacing Kyrie, wearing No. 8 for Kobe, and what he thinks the Celtics ceiling is this postseason: pic.twitter.com/VyNBM24AZs
Tom Brady didn't attend Monday's memorial service for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi, in Los Angeles.
But the death of the Lakers legend is still on Brady's mind.
The New England Patriots quarterback posted a lengthy tribute to Bryant on social media Tuesday, a day before the one-month anniversary of the helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others.